Irish student entrepreneur Nick Cotter from Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick, has won an international award worth $50,000 celebrating the brightest young business minds.
The Global Student Entrepreneur Award is the premier award for undergraduate students that own and run businesses while attending college or university. Since its founding in 1998, entrants have competed against their peers from around the world.
Having won the Entrepreneurs' Organisation Ireland Chapter GSEA Competition for his business, Cotter Agritech, in March, Nick, aged 21, represented Ireland and Europe in the finals of the Global Awards yesterday.
With his brother Jack, aged 24, Nick has been the co-founder of Cotter Bros Firewood, Cotter Organic Lamb, and Cotter Agritech.
Nick is studying Law and Business at UCC, and is a 2022 Nuffield Scholar and a UCC Quercus Innovation Scholar, following the Quercus Talented Students Programme at UCC, which supports and promotes excellence in academia, sport, creative and performing arts, active citizenship, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
The Cotters are well known in Irish agribusiness, having won several awards for innovation.
Over 50 of the world’s most exceptional student entrepreneurs competed for this year’s top GSEA award. The GSEA Global Finals consisted of student forums, a week of learning and a multi-episode YouTube mini-series on each of the finalists, with students vying for a prize fund of $50,000 in cash.
All finalists benefited from feedback and mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, and the winners achieve valuable media exposure. The total value of all prizes, gifts and services for all student competitors at the GSEA Global Finals is nearly half a million dollars.
From a sheep farming background, the brothers' latest Cotter Agritech start-up offers sheep farmers a selective worming system to reduce chemical use in agriculture while increasing productivity, and profitability. This follows Cotter Bros Firewood founded in 2011, and Cotter Organic Lamb in 2019.
The latter was an Irish Quality Food awards winner and featured on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show in 2020, followed by a Blas Na hEireann silver award win in 2021.
But Cotter Agritech offers Nick and Jack global business opportunities, because the brothers believe every sheep farmer around the world would be better off if their invention is available to them.
Their system uses advanced algorithms to enable farmers to transition from blanket treating animals with anti-parasitic drugs, to a very precise application by identifying and targeting only the animals that need treatment.
This approach can reduce anti-parasitic drug use by up to 50%, which reduces costs, drug resistance, and impacts on biodiversity. The system started as the Cotter Crate for quick, easy and safe sheep-handling crate while dosing, vaccinating, tagging, dagging, weighing, mouthing, body condition scoring, and three-way drafting.
This integrates with SmartWorm, the company's advanced weighing and targeted selective treatment phone app for weight recording, treatment management, and targeted selective worming.
The system calculates a lamb's potential growth, based on factors such as weight gain, rainfall and temperature, pasture availability and quality. If a lamb has not reached the calculated target weight, it recommends treating the animal.
Cotter Agritech have wasted no time in marketing their system, which has been on show at various agricultural shows throughout Ireland and the UK. It received a commendation in the innovation competition at the recent Highland Show in Scotland.
Nick Cotter's 2022 Global Student Entrepreneur Award will join an already jammed trophy cabinet. Nick won the 2021 Verizon/Unloc Young Entrepreneurs Challenge.
Earlier this year, Nick and Jack participated in the inaugural AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme dedicated to early-stage AgTech and FoodTech start-ups. At the end of the 12-week programme, Cotter Agritech was named the winner of the AIB and Yield Lab AgTech Start-up 2022 Award.
The brothers also won the Engineers Ireland Innovative Student Engineer of the Year Award 2019, and the Enterprise Ireland Best Overall Startup Award at the Ploughing Championships in 2019.